Archbishop Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, responded to claims that the Church was seeking to impose its religious views on others.
As Kansas prepares to vote on abortion policy, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City has responded to claims that Catholics are imposing their religious views on the state. The claims arose in an op-ed by Rabbi Mark H. Levin, who called the upcoming vote on the “Value Them Both” amendment a bid by the Church to enshrine Catholic doctrine into law.
Value Them Both
The “Value Them Both” amendment is scheduled to appear on the ballot for the Kansas state election on August 2. The amendment, which notes that there is “no Kansas constitutional right to abortion,” would allow lawmakers to pass laws regulating abortion practices within the state. Furthermore, the amendment would ensure that no government funds may go towards abortion.
Kansas is the first state scheduled to vote on the issue since the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 decision on Roe v Wade, which essentially legalized abortion nation wide. If passed, the “Value Them Both” amendment will open the doors for restrictions on abortion prior to 22 weeks.
According to CNA, Rabbi Levin wrote that the amendment is a Catholic bid to “compel all Kansans to conform to their religious idea of the origin of individual lives [conception], and to enshrine that belief in law.” He called the effort to regulate abortion a “cold and quiet war against our religions” and suggested the passage of this law would be “minority rule.”
In his response, published by The Kansas City Star, Archbishop Naumann called Levin’s op-ed an attack “targeting the Catholic church and me personally,” one that “combined flagrant mischaracterization and anti-Catholic rhetoric.” The prelate noted that many laws coincide with Church teaching, but this does not mean any junction between state law and Catholic beliefs is a religious imposition.
The Archbishop wrote:
“From a Catholic perspective, abortion is not primarily a religious issue but a fundamental human rights issue. Our faith helps us understand the dignity of every human life created in the divine image as taught in the Hebrew scriptures, but reason alone is sufficient to know that it is wrong to destroy an innocent human life.”
Archbishop Naumann went on to recall the path of Bernard Nathanson, a pro-abortion advocate who presided over 60,000 abortions in his time. Nathanson was eventually faced with the scientific realities of life before birth. After ultrasound technology was introduced, offering Nathanson a view of a baby alive within the womb, he acknowledged the humanity of the unborn child and reconsidered his views on abortion.
Nathanson went on to become a vigorous pro-life advocate, who admitted to having developed a “Catholic Strategy” in his pro-choice days that served to foment anti-Catholic sentiment as well as confuse the faithful on this important issue. The “Catholic Strategy” appealed to anti-Catholicism by blaming Catholic leaders for abortion limitations. The strategy subsequently elevated pro-abortion Catholic politicians and candidates, and promoted the “Catholic Straddle” – the idea of being “personally opposed,” but supportive of women’s right to choose.
Archbishop Naumann called Levin’s commentary “a page out of the Catholic Strategy playbook.” He noted that Levin has accused him of lying in order to “deprive Kansans of personal choice,” however, he suggested that this was precisely what the Kansas Supreme Court did when it declared that abortion was protected by the state’s constitution. The prelate stated that the Kansas Supreme Court decision took the choice out of the public’s hands and placed it in those of the court.
The Archbishop concluded:
“Value Them Both is not a Catholic issue. Preserving current laws and reclaiming the authority of the people of Kansas to determine public policy on such an important societal issue is something every Kansan should be eager to support.”